Saturday, October 25, 2014

eBook Review: Ball Four

Jim BoutonBall Four

  • Product Details

    • File Size: 2187 KB
    • Print Length: 508 pages
    • Publisher: RosettaBooks (March 20, 2012)
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B00CME4ROM
    • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
    • X-Ray: Enabled
    • Lending: Enabled 
    • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars (295 customer reviews)
    • Price: $1.99 (Sale price. Now $9.99.)

1. Short review:  *:) happy (Amazon rating: 4 out of 5 stars -- I like it.)

2. Long review:
2.1. What I liked: The continuations. Jim Bouton added Ball Five, Ball Six, and Ball Seven to the end of the book. These sections update the story to 10 years after Ball Four, 20 years after, and 30 years after. They are much happier than the main book.
Roller-coaster or walk-in-the-park? A sometimes amusing and always interesting walk in the park.
Good value for the money I paid. I recommend you wait for a sale.

2.2. What I did not like: The depressing account of Bouton's time with the Seattle Pilots.

2.3. Who I think is the audience: Sports fans. Baseball fans.

2.4. Is the book appropriate for children to read?  No.

2.5. On the basis of reading this book, will I buy the author's next book? No. I believe Jim Bouton can write and write well, but I have only a passing interest in baseball.

2.6. The plot in a nutshell:
     Jim Bouton kept a diary during the 1969 season and published it under the title Ball Four. Bouton took a lot of heat for telling the truth about baseball: the low pay, the childish pranks, the clubhouse politics, the prolific use of profanity, and the rampant drug use.
     The book started with Bouton negotiating his salary with the New York Yankees. Next he went to spring training in Arizona with the Seattle Pilots. I do not recall if the Pilots got him in the expansion draft or traded for him.
     Bouton was a knuckleball pitcher. He had his good days and his bad days. Throughout the book, Bouton worked on developing his rhythm to throw the knuckleball.
     Soon after the season began, the Pilots sent Bouton down to their AAA club, the Vancouver (BC) Mounties. A month later they called him back up to Seattle. In August, Seattle traded him to the Houston Astros, who were in a pennant race when Bouton joined them. The Astros faded in September and fell out of the playoff picture.
     When Bouton was with the Pilots, he seemed sad and depressed. When Bouton was with the Astros, he seemed much happier.
     Ball Five related Bouton's story for the years 1970-1979. He retired in 1970 when the Astros sent him down to the minors, but came back to baseball in the minors in 1975. He traveled around minor league baseball as a journeyman pitcher and finally made it to the majors again with the Atlanta Braves.
     Ball Six related Bouton's story for the years 1980-1989. He divorced Bobbie. He continued to play baseball with semi-pro and amateur leagues. He invented things and marketed his inventions. He met and married Paula Kurman.
     Ball Seven started with the death of Bouton's daughter, Laurie, in a car accident. That happened in 1997, and the grief was still with Bouton when he wrote Ball Seven in 1999. He got his first invitation to a Yankees Old-Timers game in 1998 through the campaign of his son Michael.
     Even with Laurie's death and the grief Bouton felt taken into account, Ball Five, Ball Six, and Ball Seven are much happier reads than Ball Four.

2.7. Other:
Quotes from Ball Four:
Publishers like sports books because, while they rarely make a lot of money, they never lose money. 
There's a difference between optimism and wishful thinking. 
The world doesn't want to hear about labor pains. It only wants to see the baby. 
[W]hat these kids need is not a half-hour of conversation with some big-name guy who's just passing through. What they need is day-to-day-attention . . . .
A young girl asked one of the guys in the bullpen if he was married. "Yeah," he said, "but I'm not a fanatic about it."
[Y]ou are what people think you are. 
[I]n order for rules to exist, deviant members must be punished by the group. 
[T]he real experience of baseball was the bus rides and the country ballparks and the chili at 3 A.M. with a bunch of guys chasing a dream. And it was true enough. 
Think of a ballplayer as a fifteen-year-old in a twenty-five-year-old body. 
Being a professional athlete allows you to postpone your adulthood. 
[P]eople need to do what they love or find a way to love what they do. 
[P]eople don't want to hear the truth. They prefer their steadfast beliefs, acquired over time and developed into a mantra. 
     Bouton gave much of the credit for Ball Four to his editor, Leonard Shecter. It is evident that Bouton considered Shecter a friend and that Bouton loved Shecter dearly. Shecter edited Ball Four. He could not have edited Ball Five, because he died 5 years before it was written. Paula Kurman edited Ball Six and Ball Seven. I prefer Ball Six and Ball Seven to Ball Four and think Kurman's editing better than Shecter's, but that may be because she had happier material to work with or that may be because Bouton had more experience writing when he wrote those sections.


2.8. Links: Jim Bouton

2.9. Buy the book:  Ball Four

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